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Invisible Heritage Page

Invisible Heritage Contents

We Built This Town

Invisible Heritage: Identity, Memory & Our Town is an ambitious and innovative community revitalization project launched by Crucian Heritage and Nature Tourism (CHANT) to invest in workforce development and historic restoration using creative placemaking as a vehicle for transformation.

Invisible Heritage is an opportunity to engage in the ancestral work of promoting and protecting the built heritage of Frederiksted town and the Free Gut neighborhood specifically. The project is led by CHANT's Executive Director, Frandelle Gerard and managed by Akua Jackson, Program Manager.

Project deliverables are executed through three work areas: community engagement/public art, training/apprenticeship and acquisitions/construction. Click here for a full overview...

VISION

Upon completion of this ambitious project, historic properties will be occupied by low/moderate income residents, along with artists and artisans bringing life to formerly abandoned spaces. In building an accredited training and job experience program for residents, a pipeline for careers in the building arts, historic restoration and preservation and the decorative arts will be established. With community ownership of the project, new processes for and works of socially engaged public art will be created. The power of the place will be charged by the historical narrative and the structures and will be activated by the community for positive transformation.

GOALS

With our traditional building arts legacy serving as the foundation for the success of the project; metalsmithing, woodworking, basket weaving and stonemasonry are to be employed in the training of residents and actual restoration of the six historic structures. Utilizing our folk performance arts (storytelling, traditional music and dance, ritual theatre), this project will both engage residents in dialogue around the economic development of our town and integrate resident ideas into the planning and use of the six rehabilitated buildings and the implementation of the training and apprenticeship program. Community centered approaches anchored in the local dynamics will be utilized to activate these once abandoned and neglected spaces.

PROJECT PARTNERS

- Virgin Islands Department of Public Works
- The University of the Virgin Islands Caribbean    Community Center
- Our Town Frederiksted
- Virgin Islands Department of Tourism
- The St. Croix Council of Elders

- St. Paul's Episcopal Church
- The Caribbean Museum Center for the    Arts
- The Frederiksted Health Clinic
- Clean Sweep Frederiksted
- The Frederiksted Community Garden
COMMUNITY BACKGROUND

Free Gut is a neighborhood established during the Danish Colonial period (1753) for Free Blacks in the historic town of Frederiksted, St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands (also known as Freedom City by the town's 3, 000 year-round residents). Shaped by a complicated history and rooted in a palpable African-ness, Frederiksted is moving forward through a legacy of environmental and economic disaster. With a rate of family homelessness at 17% and a poverty rate currently around 25%, the need for a textured approach to community development is palpable. Residents have identified employment, safe affordable housing and economic opportunities as the priority areas for community intervention. Crucian Heritage and Nature Tourism and our partners are asset-based programs for community development that centers the cultural heritage of Freedom City in our community's revitalization.

 

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